Ensuring the survival of endangered
plants in the Mediterranean

Agricultural Research Institute, ARI (Cyprus)

The Agricultural Research Institute (ARI) undertakes research within the wider domain of plant and animal production. It comprises the Research Sections of Fruit Trees and Viticulture, Plant Improvement, Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Plant Protection, Soil Science, Animal Production, Agricultural Development and Agrobiotechnology, as well as the autonomous units of the Variety Examination Centre and the Farm Accountancy Data Network. 

The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art laboratories pursuing analytical work in a range of fields encompassing molecular biology, agricultural chemistry, postharvest technology, phytopathology, entomology/ toxicology and tissue culture. The ARI infrastructure also includes an extensive library and modern greenhouse and cold storage facilities. The National Gene Bank and the National Herbarium are based at ARI. An experimental livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) farm operates at Athalassa and outstations at Akheleia and Zygi for citrus, flowers, vegetables and field crops, at Saittas for deciduous fruits and vines and at Xylotympou and Polis for citrus, vegetables and cereal breeding. Extensive experimentation is also undertaken in cooperation with farmers on private agricultural land. The ARI is the National Focal Point for FAO projects related to conservation and utilization of plant and animal genetic resources in agriculture. Results of ARI΄s research are published in international peer-reviewed journals or in its own publication series in English and Greek.

The Institute is the national AGRIS Centre collecting, cataloguing and indexing the agricultural literature published in Cyprus, and is also the national CARIS Centre collating information on ongoing research.  The Institute cooperates with international and regional organizations, such as FAO, IAEA, ICARDA, Bioversity international, etc., and other national research organizations and institutions of the European Union.

The Institute’s Genebank was established in 1985 while the first seed collecting expeditions conducted in 1978. Today, more than 1100 accessions are conserved under medium and long term storage facilities. The main activities of the Genebank concern the collection, conservation, characterization and evaluation plant genetic resources. Focus has been given to genetic material threatened with genetic erosion or extinction such as landraces, endemic plants and plants of the national red book. Another area of interest is the collection of crop wild relatives, e.g. species that can be used for breeding or aromatic, medicinal, ornamental and edible plants.        

The Genebank has established close collaboration with other national and foreign Institutes and international organizations as the European Cooperative Program for Plant Genetic Resources (ECPGR). The Genebank is associated member of the AEGIS (European Genebank Integrated System) and member of  ENSCONET (European Native Seed Conservation Network).  

It is estimated that more than 10,000 named specimens are kept in the Herbarium, while a number of specimens collected in recent years need documentation and naming. Many specimens are cited to the “Flora of Cyprus” giving them high historical value.